How to respond to a negative TripAdvisor review

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Are you a hotelier or involved in the hospitality industry? Sooner or later chances are you’re going to get a negative TripAdvisor review:

Worst place I’ve ever stayed!

However, if you’re like most tourism business owners you are extremely passionate about your guests and are committed to providing the best experience and customer service possible.

To be sure, there’s nothing more disheartening than checking into TripAdvisor to see what’s being said about your venture only to find someone criticizing your business, your staff, or your service.

Immediately, you get that awful feeling in the pit of your stomach combined with the natural human reaction to defend what you’ve worked so diligently on.

Negative reviews can leave you feeling frustrated, angered, and deflated.

Your initial inclination might be to fire back a response that attacks your online reviewer.  At this point it’s best to take a step back, and take a deep breath, as this will only serve to make the situation much, much worse.

While it might feel good in that moment, the “attack back strategy” does little to uphold and improve upon your reputation management ecosystem.

Step away from the computer, assess the situation, and accept that the review is there.

When the initial shock has subsided, it’s time to craft your response to the TripAdvisor review in a calm and rational voice. As you begin to draft your reply, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Respond in a professional manner.
  • Keep it as brief as possible.
  • Address the complaint(s) directly.
  • Make it positive in tone.

Remember, for whatever reason your guest did not enjoy her stay or experience. At this point, your number one goal should be to minimize the negative impact of the review and to maximize the opportunity to show that you are human, you care, and where applicable, that corrective action has been taken.

As an example of a negative TripAdvisor review, let’s assume that someone gave your business a one star rating and provided a written statement similar to the following:

“Horrible accommodation and dirty rooms.”

Step one – Thank the reviewer.

As difficult as it may be, here is your first opportunity to show future readers of the review that you are human and care. A simple strategy for your first sentence is to write something like the example below:

“Thank you for taking the time to review our property/business. We truly value the opinions of our customers and we apologize that we did not meet your expectations.”

Step two – Respond directly to the criticism.

If the room was dirty, a staff member was rude to the reviewing customer, or other common complaint, do your best to find out what happened. Was your business extremely busy that day? Was the employee involved having a difficult week? Or, if you notice a pattern where rooms are consistently rated as not clean or one employee continues to receive negative feedback, perhaps a larger issue needs to be addressed.

In terms of drafting a response, honesty is the best policy. Make it a point to explain to the customer that service and cleanliness is your number one priority, and state what corrective actions have been taken:

“Providing our guests with the best possible hospitality and service has always been our mission. We have addressed the cleanliness issue, and or, spoken with the employee in question. We want you to know that we truly enjoy sharing our passion for our destination with visitors and want you to walk out the door feeling refreshed.”

Step three – The closing.

Here is your final chance to assuage the situation with the angered reviewer while at the same time letting possible future customers know just how much you care:

“If you come back to our hotel/tourism business/restaurant I would love to have the opportunity to speak with you directly, so please ask for me. We hope to see you again in the future and wish you the very best.”

While the above example is generic in nature, negative TripAdvisor reviews can have a dramatic impact on your business and financial bottom line.

When you find yourself dealing with a similar situation in the future, keep in mind that your reaction to the TripAdvisor review can be more telling than the review itself.

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Mark Hayward


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